We can all feel cross at times, there’s plenty of reason. But we have to be careful how we handle it. Listen to some advice from Paul the Apostle writing in the New Testament: ‘In your anger do not sin. Do not let the sun go down while you’re still angry and do not give the devil a foothold.’ (Ephesians 4 v 26)
Holding onto and nursing our feelings of hurt and indignation opens the door to the demon of bitterness and the host of unpleasant things that accompany it. We raise our voice, shake our fist, utter curses against those we think are to blame and the next thing property is burning and someone’s son or daughter lies injured in hospital or dead in the street.
Better, with God’s help, to do as Jesus teaches and forgive those who anger us, as we hope to be forgiven our offences against heaven. Release the resentment, let it go. Perhaps take opportunity to talk about the difference with civility and respect, grow in understanding, seek common good. Challenging yes, but much better than corrosive anger and hatred.
This week the news reported violent disturbance on the streets of my hometown. While it didn’t make the headlines, I read of a church in the same city on the same day whose members filled a table in their gateway with free food for anyone from anywhere who might be facing financial difficulty.
‘Where sin increased, grace increased all the more.’ (Paul again in Romans 5 v 20)
For now there will be darkness, but there is also light, so we have a choice. Which will we choose to nurture in our hearts – bitterness or grace?
Prayer in a time of trouble
Lord, things aren’t right and we are frustrated.
Our anger tempts us to speak rashly,
too easily blaming and condemning others for everything.
Tension boils, prompting violence and destruction.
We surrender to the lying voices of hatred and anarchy.
Lord, save us!
Deliver us from the madness of conflict.
Send your angels to patrol our streets,
protecting innocent and vulnerable,
restraining those who are turning to wickedness.
May your Spirit teach wisdom,
a godly respect, an awakened conscience.
Sow in our hearts again the seeds of humility
and service and peace.
We confess our selfish indulgence and idols of this world
that have abandoned this generation to despair.
Forgive us and turn our hearts with zeal once more to Christ.
Prince of Peace, retake command in our hearts
and lead us in paths of righteousness and overcoming love.
For Your name’s sake, Jesus.